tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC July 24, 2009 2:00pm-3:00pm EDT
with us now to talk about this, nbc's mike taibbi and kevin, a national correspondent with "the new york times." mike, the police union says it wants an apology. are we going to see apologies? >> reporter: they're not requesting an apology, but what the association said was that if professor gates chose to apologize, that would be quote, an excellent outcome. they certainly have dug in their heels, another line in the sand on both sides. when you think that on monday, this was a two-paragraph story in the student newspaper, tuesday we did the story on "nightly news" as a short piece -- that should not demean professor gates or the police department. it almost ended and then language started to get ratcheted up.
the president's comment that police acted stupidly in arresting gates. gates himself tells cnn that surely it was a rogue cop that made the arrest. today's press conference, several police association standing four square behind 42-year-old sergeant, james crowley. crowley himself didn't speak today, but yesterday, he said again that he did nothing wrong, that it was professor gates who controlled the situation. so both sides right now, narrow descriptions of what happened. may not be tapes or absolute cooperation, but this dispute has as "the new york times" put it this morning, reignited a national discussion about the relationship between race and law enforcement. >> mike, thank you for that. we're just learning now from the massachusetts news wires, that a
black police officer who was with, at the home when gates was arrested, says he supports 100% how his white fl low officer handled the situation. >> let's bring in kevin sack of "the new york times," who won a pulitzer prize a few years ago. thanks for being with us. let me ask you from your experience in that series, how universal are experiences of the kind that skip gates and this police officer had in cambridge? that is mutual misunderstanding. skip gates thinks there was profiling involved. does this happen thousands of times every day across this country? >> i can't come up with a count, but i think it is common place and if you talk to african-americans in this country, they'll tell you so. what was fascinating about this
situation and particularly the president's involvement is that like so many of our racial flash points in the recent past in this country, this is a situation where everybody views it through the prison m of their own racial experience, including the president of the united states. i think we've learned over the years that blacks and whites simply have very different histories and experiences in this area over the course of their lifetimes and they see it based on what they expect, what they're past experiences has been and clearly, i think that's where the president was speaking from. despite the fact that -- >> well, speaking of the president -- speaking of the president, you and i have both covered politics for a long time. we know that he is the first african-american president, but he's president of all the country. do you think based on the reaction that it was a mistake
for him to jump in so strongly? >> i think based on the white house's comments today, they feel it was a mistake. not necessarily to say what he said, but to say it in the way that he said it and the context that he said it in. among other things, he certainly stepped on his message about health care that night. it's been a two-day distraction. i think they feel they made a mistake and i think most people would certainly argue that he might have gone a step too far. that there was a way to address that question certainly without characterizing the actions of the police as stupid. >> kevin, you mentioned health care. stay right there because i'm going to come back to you on that issue, but now, we're going to move to the health care debate in washington, d.c. the gop's stepping up its criticism of the reform effort. i sat down yesterday with mitch
mcconnell to find out what's going on. >> the senate is a place where it's pretty hard to steam roll the minority, even if you have a good number. 60, which you think would give you control. the senate has for years been a place that put a high presume yum thing on a bipartisan basis. >> do you believe there will be an agreement on a bipartisan bill or do you think that effort will fail and democrats will have to do this on their own? >> well, senator grassley and -- have been involved and have indicated that they don't want to be part of an agreement that doesn't have widespread support among republican senators. we're hoping that there will be a measure developed that can attract a large number of republicans because none of us are in favor of doing nothing.
i don't know a single republican senator who thinks that no action is an appropriate response. but we do want to try to get it right. >> jim demint got some aattention for the things he said recently, about waterloo. wasn't he accurately describing the role of the opposition in modern politics? >> no. this is not about him. this is about the nation's health care and getting this done right and we have an ex example in my view of not doing it right. that was the hurry-up job on the stimulus. if we didn't do it, unemployment would go over 8%. we did it and unemployment's going to go over 10%. i don't think rushing this job is smart. >> do you think it is possible, given the contours of our fiscal situation and desirable to have
a health care package that would provide coverage for virtually all the people who now lack health insurance? >> i think a better way to get out of the that problem, and the cbo says the way the house chooses to do this won't get everybody covered any way. a better way is to individualize the tax code. >> but if you simply add tax credits for the purchase of individual insurance, aren't you only making the fiscal situation worg worse? >> well, you'd have to pay for it. >> how? >> that's a subject of negotiation. i would prefer an inkre mental approach as opposed to a massive change particularly when it's paid for in part out of programs that are already unsustainable. >> but it sounds like a approach you favor are centered around
reducing costs say in the medicare program perhaps providing new tax incentives, but not in any near term, time frame, providing a mechanism and financing to insure the 47 million people who don't know, or a large chunk of them. >> different kinds of folks in that group. a large number are illegal immigrants. a significant number of young people who think they're going to live forever and can afford it. we ought to analyze who these people are. >> let's bring back in kevin sack. i know you profiled some of the folks who were looking at the president's speech hoping to get some answers. a lot of these people are people who come home from the hospital and see a charge on their bill, $125 for a mucous recovery system that's really a box of
clean ex. are they hearing ideas about how you solve the underlying problem of making health care more efficient and less expensive? >> it's an interesting stage of the process in terms of public opinion because we've now finally gotten to the point where they are real details on the table and they're being debated openly in congress, but there's not a final piece of legislation for people to get their hands around and therefore, people are sort of seeing the things that impact them. there's not enough information for them to have a complete grasp and as a result, there's a lot of skept schism. there's something for just about everybody to get a little bit agitated about in the proposals on the table. i think what's happened over the last couple of weeks is that momentum has stalled, both in
congress and public opinion outside of washington. and that has created this vacuum that's being filled by some real uncertainty about what this means for families at home. >> i guess a lot of people are dealing with insurance and they don't find that to be very efficient, that we'd like to see more attention being paid to our medical system as a whole and how do we make it more effective, initiate and afford abl. thank you so much for your time. >> thank you. coming up, our op-ed takes on the charges of racial profiling. plus, roger cohen talks about how the new, more open iran is anything but. and i expect to speak with california governor, arnold schwarzenegger, later this hour. we'll bring you that exclusive
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good friday. let's get to the op-ed pieces from "the new york times." >> this first one deals with the controversy surrounding president obama, cambridge, massachusetts police. "the new york times" writes about the fallout after president obama said the police acted stupidly after they arrested gates. quote, successful african-americans, whether they're sports stars, politicians are often accorded a more tortured existence. they're often employed as weapons in the age old campaign to discredit and even demean the
disadvantaged. now, contessa, what do you think about that? i thought this was a pretty provocative column for brent because he said many of us may have been misunderstood barack obama. he clearly wanted to take about race the other night. >> he was pointing out essentially when we saw the president at the naacp anniversary dinner, the next day what we talked about was his challenge to black families to step up, parents to put their kids to bed early, but not a lot of time on his remarks on how families are still underemployed in this nation. >> and you saw in some of his subsequent remarks to jean r, tt kind of ticked him off a little bit. >> hard for any of us to see our
words nitpicked apart and only focus on one. david brooks talks in the op-ed pages where the democrats are headed under the leadership of president obama. according to polls, brooks writes, americans love president obama personally, but on politics, he and the democrats are losing ground. brooks says we're only in the early stages of the liberal suicide march, but there have been three phases. he basically says the leaders are making the same mistakes that led to the downfall of the republicans. >> he is saying that. as much i love david brooks' columns, i think he's wrong in the way he's analyzing this situation. he's saying these members of congress are leading barack obama off the left edge of the cliff. i think what's happening many instead is that the committee chairman and leaders in congress are trying to get the votes to
pass barack obama's program and if you look at what's in motion on health care, energy, it's dragging the programs to the right in order to get more votes. so david, i understand the argument that david's making, but i don't see it. >> those big, democratic policies are what's concerning a lot of americans. they're worried about how their money is being spent and what we may see is that blue dog democrats become the pivotal figures on the hill. >> i think you're right about that. and now, "new york times" op-ed columnist taxs on the situation in iran. he was there during the election last month and writes about the government's crack down on protestors. he says there's been tragedy aplenty since june the 12th.
dozens of killings, countless arrests and i hope i've belittled none of it when i say there's something laughable. rog roger, explain that. >> because the fraud that happened on june 12th, the date of the election, was so clumsy and so obvious in a way that it left many iranian simply incredulous. that's why you had 3 million people. i was among them. on the streets of tehran immediately after the election. and you have the supreme leader telling the newly elected president ahminedjad, you're now the president of all iranian. please reach out to them. what does he do? he goes out in the street and calls anyone who didn't vote for him a hoolagan and worthless as dust. it seemed very, very clumsy, almost to the point of being
laughable. iranian are a very proud nation. they don't take kindly to their nation appearing ridiculous. >> we've seen san jany now stand up and it looks as if he's trying to put a public face on many of the discontent iranian are feeling. at the same time, we're seeing -- saying there are plots and that many iranian are willing to sacrifice their lives to keep them in power. are we going to see iranian standing up and revolting against the status quo or khatami predicts, more riots in the street against it. >> well, i think, contessa, that what is clear is that this is ongoing. the rage over the election has
motivated probably san jan. in the final analysis, will stand with that regime. in speaking out against the supreme leader, he is showing the rifts that exist in iran today and those rifts are simply much greater than at any time since the revolution in 1979 and the two years following that. so iran today is an immensely volatile place. it's also morphed in the minds of people around the world and here in the united states. if you'd said iran two months ago to an american, what's the image that would have come forth? i think some baerded guy with his finger on a nuclear button. they're in the streets, protesting women getting beaten. the young, 26-year-old woman
who's death was kaugtd on camera, so i think an additional factor is the changed perception of iran and much greater criticism of ahminedjad around the world. he is without question today, the most devicive political figure in the 30-year history of the revolution. he's being attacked from the right. he's being attacked from the left. he's being attacked by the religious establishment, some of it. while he will probably hang on, at least for a while because he has the revolutionary guards behind him and a monopoly of a force for now, i wouldn't rule out his eventual sacrifice in the name of unity. >> thank you. and coming up, sarah palin's last days as governor of the 49th state. how will she be remembered? does she have a political
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new york city's public housing projects where volunteers were spreading the word about recycling. the women go from building to build, delivering their message about the environment. residents come out to hear them, some willingly, some unwillingly. >> you don't have to recycle. there are people that do want to recycle. >> it's not that at all. sure, we would love to have it, but they're not going to do it. >> let's go. >> does not discourage us all. that is the only time, the only time we had encountered anything like that. what keeps me motivated? the fact that people are listening and trying. >> the volunteers continue their work in hopes their efforts will be replicated through the the city's public housing system and with more than 2 million living
in public housing throughout the nation, it might be a good opportunity to reduce waste on a large scale. logon to video.on.nytimes.com to see more. coming up, the impact of the arrest on henry gates. have the president's comments helped or hurt? and later this hour, we expect to speak with the terminator, governor of california arnold schwarzenegger, live in his office. i never thought i would have a heart attack, but i did. you need to talk to your doctor about aspirin. you need to be your own advocate. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. you take care of your kids,
white house north lawn. here's the president. >> i need to help give that a little bit. >> are you the new press secretary? >> you've got to do a job, do it yourself. i wanted to address you guys directly because over the last day and a half, obviously, there's been all sorts of controversy around the incident that happened at cambridge with professor gates and the police department there. i just had a conversation with sergeant jim crowley and i have to tell you that as i said yesterday, my impression of him was that he is a outstanding police officer and good man and that was confirmed in the phone conversation and i told him that. and i -- because this has been ratcheting up and i obviously
helped to contribute ratcheting it up, i want to make clear that in my choice of words, i think i unfortunately gave an impression that i was maligning the cambridge police department or sergeant crowley specifically and i could have calibrated those words differently. i continue to believe based on what i have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling professor gates out of his home to the station. i also continue to believe based on what i heard, that professor gates probably overreacted as well. my sense is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able
to resolve the incident in the way it should have been revolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved. the fact that it has garnered so much attention, i think is a testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in america. and you know, so to the extent that my choice of words didn't illuminate, but rather contributed to more media frenzy, i think that was unfortunate. what i'd like to do then is make sure that everybody steps back for a moment, recognizes that these are two decent people. not extrapolate too much from the facts, but as i said at the press conference, be mindful of the fact that because of our history, because of the difficulties of the past, you know, african-americans are sensitive to these issues.
and even when you've got a police officer who has a fine track record on racial sensitivity, interactions between police officers and the african-american community can sometimes be fraught with misunderstanding. my hope is that as a consequence of this event, this ends up being what's called a teachable moment, where all of us instead of pumping up the volume, spend a little bit more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities and that instead of flinging akizations, we can be more reflective in what we can do to contribute more unity. lord knows we need it right now
because over the last two days, as we've discussed this issue, i don't know if you've noticed, but nobody's been paying much attention to health care. i will not use this time to spend more words on health care, although i can't guarantee that won't be true next week. i just wanted to emphasize -- one last point. there are some who say that as president, i shouldn't have stepped into this at all because it's a local issue. i have to tell you, that that part of it i disagree with. the fact that that has become such a big issue i think is indicative of the fact that you know, race is still a troubling aspect of our society. whether i were black or white, i think that me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to
constructive as opposed to negative understandings about the issue, is part of my portfol portfolio. so -- at the end of the c conversati conversation, there was discussion about he and i and professor gates having a beer here in the white house. we don't know if that's scheduled yet, but -- but we may put that together. he also did say he wanted to find out if there was a way of getting the press off his wall. i informed him that i can't get the press off my lawn. he pointed out that my lawn is bigger than his lawn. but if anybody has any connections to the boston press
as well as national press, sergeant crowley would be happy for you to stop trampling his grass. all right? thank you, guys. >> hold on, hold on. i have almost all the confidence in the world that whatever i say is not going to make the news tonight. but in my role, i am happy to answer. actually, marissa handed me my folder and said the week ahead is in the front pocket. i said i have a sneaking suspicion we'll get to that toward the end. he has not spoken to professor gates. >> did anybody from the white house reach out to professor gates? >> was there any form of apology from the president? >> i think the president characterized most of their conversation as something he wanted to have with the officer and i'll keep it that way.
>> he said a beer, that's one thing you throw out there. >> i think it was the suggestion of the sergeant and i think the president in their probably about five-minute phone conversation. >> is he letting the sergeant come to the white house? >> five-minute conversation. >> in about a five-minute conversation, i have to check my notes. i think it was sergeant crowley's suggestion about the beer. he doesn't have it scheduled, but they'll work on that. >> so he is inviting the sergeant to the white house, right? >> hold on. you don't have to talk into the microphone. we all heard your question. again, i think as the president said, and i think that's why the invitation is a real invitation
is that a moment like this can be used to teach us and be used to have a communication and a dialogue that's constructive outside of the moment. >> robert, when did the president decide to make the phone call and what prompted him? any particular event or conversation? >> none that i'm aware of. sometime earlier today, but i don't know the exact time that he decided. the call happened, lasted about five minutes. it was probably around just cently, 2:15, 2:20. >> do you know if he plans to speak to professor gates? >> i don't know.
april? >> this is significant the president had to come back and address a question from a press conference because of the nature of race. what kind of letters or calls have you gotten to the white house and what kind of outpouring have you gotten from the community to make this decision and did police organizations from around the country help to make this decision? >> i was on the road yesterday, april, so i don't know what engagement the white house had yesterday with groups or individuals. i think i did see the, on the correspondence chart we get that health care was the biggest topic again yesterday in terms of comments and concerns. >> also, since he acknowledges that race is still an issue, is he thinking about possibly doing something along the lines what
bill clinton did? possibly having a conversation on race at some point. >> i think -- i think in many ways, the question, the answer, the events, i think we're having that conversation. i don't think it's a separate initiative. i don't think it's an announcement. i think the president would say that these are important issues that play out in our daily lives and will and should be discussed in our daily lives. >> from listening to him, it sure sounded like he had made an apology to the officer. wouldn't it be fair to characterize it as that? >> well, steve, i think he understood that as he told you all, that he, his words contributed to this being wra ratcheted up.
i think there's a reason the news media is on the sergeant's lawn. i think that he wanted to make sure that -- to let him know that word choice was not one that he thought was probably the best choice. >> were you in the room during the call? did you hear him issue an apology? >> you can quote me and him. i understand. i feel comfortable with the answer i just gave steve. >> did you hear him make an apology. >> if the president doesn't want to characterize in a conversation he's having with you all, i'm not going to get ahead of him. >> robert, prior to the president going out for that press conference, you sit down, go over the questions to be asked for the evening and rehearse answers or discuss how
he will answer questions. did this come up as part of the preparation, the gates meatter and if so -- >> not going to get into the process of all of this. >> what was discussed about that question? >> not going to get into -- my opinion on that doesn't matter. >> there will be a meeting here at the white house? >> i think the president hopes so. i think the president hopes that again, this is a moment that can be used to discuss these issues. >> and when do you expect him to reach out to mr. gates? >> i said i'd check on it. >> what part of the statement do you think he would take back? the word, stupidly? >> you just heard from the president. i don't want to get into parsing him.
jonathan? >> i want to make sure he is referring, is he referring to mr. gates and his response or to the president's own response to the issue and to the question at the press conference? >> i think he's talking at large. i don't think this, i think that statement, i know that statement does not, he's not speaking about an individual situation. he's talking about the reason that he came to work on an issue like this in this state senate was because of historical tension. but that's not an individual thing. >> what i mean, when should we ask the question, he could have dodged it, but jumped into it. i wonder because of the sensitivity to -- >> i think he addressed that here in saying he has heard
those that said maybe because it was a local issue it's something that he should have or could have steered around and i think he was clear on that here. >> robert, two questions. one, as far as the health care issue is concerned, most of the americans think insurance and doctors in this country, they support the president's initiative, but also -- sixth months in office on most of the issues. as far as small businesses are concerned, some have concerns at how they will save and now, as far as the issue -- to them that they want to hear from the president about how to deal with that. >> let me address -- >> you're looking now at the white house press briefing and robert gibbs who is following up on a surprise appearance by the president. the president came out and said
he wanted to follow up on his comments after lynn asked him. the president said it was an overreaction pulling professor gates out of his home to the station, but went on to say that both professor gates and the officer are decent people. he had what was characterized as a five-minute long conversation with officer crowley and got the per spesktive he was intent on doing his best, but african-americans have a history of being -- and they carry with them a big burden of these slights and that perhaps they're sensitive to these issues because of their history. let me bring in jeff. it's interesting, jeff, and we're seeing this because a lot of speculation today, robert gibbs said the president
regretted his stupid comment because he felt is media was distracted by it, but then came out this afternoon and gave us a lot to talk about on this particular issue. >> there's no question. really, all this developed in about four hours. at 10:00 this morning, gibbs said the president said his final words on this. but during that intervening time, several police officials in cambridge had a conference and came hard after the white house. the president was watching some of that, we're told, and his advisers told him he would not be able to move beyond this if he did not address this personally, so that's what he did. what the white house is hoping, capped a pretty extraordinary two-day period. there's a pretty -- safe bet, i think, that this discussion is not totally over. >> it's not and it would be
interesting to see if the president follows this up with a phone call to professor gates and whether the three men end up having that beer at the white house. i think that would be an interesting conversation to be a fly on if wall. thank you. john harwood is in sacramento this hour with governor schwarzenegger. john? >> thanks so much, contessa and governor, thanks for joining us. before i ask you about the budget, the president of the united states just came in the briefing room and walked back to some degree, the xhepts he made about the arrest of the african-american professor in cambridge. said he's like to get the arresting officer and professor together for a beer. do you think the president made a mistake in his comments the other night? >> i don't know much about the case. i've been tied down here in the state capitol, getting budget done. the most important thing, not
what the president said. i know very little about that. >> you think race is a big issue though in policing between police officers and the african-american community? >> i think we hear complaints about it, but as a whole, you know, i think law enforcement is doing a great job. it's a very, very dangerous job. there's no two ways about that and you have to wait. my father was a police officer, so i know the danger that he faced every day and the worry that my mother had always and that we kids had always that he come home at night or not. there's a certain edge to the whole thing. like i said, i don't know about that particular case. >> let's talk about the budget. you've gotten action in the senate. the assembly is still considering. it's a slow process of voting. what is your message to the people of california and the country about this deal? is it that big hunting knife that you pulled out for that video the other day?
is this about cuts? >> no, that california can stand up and take care of those kinds of challenges. it is the biggest crisis, financial crisis, economic crisis that we have faced since the great depression. you know, we have recognized here in california that we were not really prepared for it. we have tried since i've come into office to prepare ourselves whether it's through a rainy day fund and getting ready doing the tax system we have. we have people paying 50% of the taxes, which is the rich people and it makes it very volatile and vulnerable because the rich people invest in wall street and if wall street crashes, those revenues crash. having those drops of $30 billion in revenue in one year,
it's just hard to deal with, but we're deal wg it. with the tax commission coming in, we'll deal with the tax system and re-do the system and also with the rainy day fund in a different budget system. >> we're talking about $60 billion in education, from health and human services, from corrections. should californians look at this as a victory or defeat? >> i think that's under the circumstances, we are happy we brought both of the parties together. i wouldn't call it a victory. under normal circumstances you would, because great reforms in home supportive services and areas in eliminating boards and commissions and making our system better and getting rid of the -- and those kinds of things. under the circumstances, when people have to struggle and
suffer because of those kind of cuts, you can't declare victory. i'm happy that democrats and republicans came together and solve the problems and we are not out out of the waters yet because there could still be drops in revenues. we could be back in the next six months and make more cuts that are necessary. i think what we have done is steered away from the iceberg and we are coming out of it and we're going to rebuild california as quickly as possible and get our economy back. >> you came to office six years ago after gray davis was voted out in a recall. the complaint was that he could not manage the state's budget. you come in, don't owe anybody anything yet you're in the same situation. does that tell the rest of the country that you are no better than gray davis at handling the
situation, or that nobody can handle california. >> that time is over. it was five or six years ago, so i'm not going to address his issue, but what is important is that in this administration, we were able to not you know get p paralyzed, but create action. the democrats wouldn't go for cuts because he was a democrat and republicans weren't able to go and have revenue increases. he couldn't get any of this done. no cuts, no revenue increases and therefore, a lot of foreign that we had to -- but what we have done now is we have made $30 plus billion in cuts. made the commitments to go and do some of it with one-time solutions be it revenue increases of $12.5 billion.
so we solved the $60 billion problem with a combination of revenue increases and severe cuts. that is what the previous administration was not able to do. >> let me ask you to pause there. contessa, i'm going to continue my conversation with the governor, but for now, back to you in new york. >> thank you very much. an important conversation to have because many of the problems facing california are across the nation. david schuster and tamron hall are up next. they'll have more on president obama's unscheduled comments on the arrest of harvard professor, henry gates. this is msnbc, the place for politics. we all have confidence and we all have doubt. but when the moment comes... what's going to win?
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>> what i'd like to do is make sure that everybody steps back for a moment, recognizes that these are two decent people. >> the police, the professor and the president. our big picture on this explosive debate about race that has america talking. is there a right and wrong? is it black and white? and what really happened when police arrested henry louis gates. >> we'll give you their versions and let you decide. plus, the next step waiting for the release of the 911 and police dispatch tapes. also, health care delayed, but not dead. the white house insists reform will come by the end of the year if not earlier. can democrats get past the division in their own party? and in the palin chronicals, sarah palin's plunging popularity. a new poll out just two days before she steps down. what's her next move?
plus, all of us know that telemarketers can be really anowing, but is it okay to threaten to burn down their offices and kill their employees and families? good afternoon. i'm david schuster, live in washington. >> i'm tamron hall, live in new york. president obama just made a surprise appearance at the white house daily briefing, the president saying he just got off the phone with james crowley, the officer who arrested harvard professor, henry louis gates jr. the president saying it was unfortunate that his remarks escalated the situation. >> i want to make clear that in my choice of words, i think i unfortunately gave an impression that i was